Strange Paradox

…this creature called love

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

My heart is pounding 
as I sit before this empty page
for this is a moment 
of intense emotions
(and random thoughts)

I am struggling to name them
(anonymity is temporary
for in time all things will be named)

to get them into an orderly line
so that I can separate them 
from each other

you see, my heart
my poor heart
(long beleaguered)
has mastered the dark arts 
of obfuscation
ambiguity and evasion
I am mistress 
of the things that hide 
in the shadows of the day
(this is the dark side
the restless tides of my soul)

we don’t like 
these wicked emotions 
(my heart and I)
we don’t have 
a working knowledge 
(or the life experience)
to shuffle the deck 
and name the cards 
as they are laid out before us

we have dipped our toes
into the rivers
and the oceans of love
we have drifted
been drenched
abandoned and rescued
(only to be left 
drowning again)

in the shallow waters of loss
and the silence of the flames

we have ridden the waves
tasted the honeyed promises
had brief moments of joy
but my heart and I
are still searching
(for something 
that may not be real?)

yet still we strive
to find our own path
unwilling to blindly follow
the well-trodden roads
(to our own destruction)
searching for the love
for the light that is right

Langston Hughes 
once wrote:

in the dark,
found light
than many 
ever see.
within herself,
found loveliness,
through the soul’s 
own mastery.
and now 
the world receives
from her dower:
the message 
of the strength
of inner power.’)

so what is this thing 
called love? 
is it really a thing 
that we all aspire 
to have and to hold?

how do we navigate 
its many shades
its unseen depths
its many faces
its many masks
its many songs
its whispered lies
its many lows
its self-inflicted tragedies
its fragile nature
(and transient journey 
through the heart?)

do we love 
because we are loved…
or are we loved 
because we are love? 
(circular reasoning
I know…)

if we are love…
how can we then be loved?

if we are not loved…
how can we then in turn love?

(this is the emotional version 
of the chicken and the egg)

does the egg beget the chicken…
or the chicken beget the egg?

does the ocean carry the waves…
or do the waves carry the ocean?

do the trees lose their leaves…
or do the leaves leave the trees?

does the dawn awaken the day…
or does the day summon the dawn?

does the night paint the darkness…
or the darkness paint the night?

Winnie the Pooh 
has wise words 
for anyone contemplating love 
(‘Some people 
care too much
I think it’s called love’)

we humans 
are skilled in self-deception
in deflection and misdirection

we can repaint the night 
in many layers of darkness 
(and still claim to see the stars 
shining bright…)

we can empty the oceans 
leaving nothing but sand 
(and still claim to hear the waves 
kissing the land…)

we can fall into love 
vowing never to stray 
(and still claim our indiscretions 
are a small price to pay)

(for surely if you love me 
you would want me to stay?)

Ernest Hemmingway
once wrote:

‘The most painful thing 
is losing yourself 
in the process 
of loving someone too much 
and forgetting that you 
are special too.’

so this is my conundrum
perhaps a dark defiance
but think about it…
we ‘fall’ in love…
and this is the ultimate 

and let’s presume 
that the one we love
‘falls’ in love with us too
(so now both of us have ‘fallen’)

now ‘falling’ is defined as…
coming down
from a higher level

in the autumn the leaves ‘fall’ 
to their ultimate demise
leaving their trees 
empty and weeping
(even angels ‘fall’ from grace)

we ‘fall’ upon our swords 
when we have failed
(and again metaphorically)
we ‘fall’ upon our face 
when we fail utterly
and completely

we ‘fall’ for tricksters 
and conmen 
and ‘fall’ behind in our bills 
and then we ‘fall’
upon hard times

so where?
in all of this ‘falling’
does ‘falling’ in love 
seem like a thing 
(we should all want to do?)

this thing we aspire to
that we long for
search for
the ultimate peak 
of emotional experience…
(but no-one tells us about the pain…)

William Shakespeare 
once wrote:

‘Expectation is the root 
of all heartache’

this much adored
much maligned
much misunderstood
amorphous thing
that if we ever get to hold it 
in our hands
(…we must know that it is never 
really ours?)

this thing
the loss of which 
(so unexpected?)
will bring us to our knees
will leave us empty and broken 
and sworn to never love again

yet the dark injuries of love
however dire
are not a cure for this affliction
for this affection
this predilection
(nor a cure for our self-destruction)

In 1742 
(I am old but not this old…) 
tennis players 
started being rewarded with ‘love’
for not scoring any points
for failing to score
they were rewarded
with metaphorical love…
playing for nothing 
(but the love of the game)

yes, that’s correct…
we do not score
we call it love
we failed
we call it love
we lost
we call it love
we gained nothing 
(but the experience and the pain)
and we still…
call it love

there is a strange lesson here
the winner takes the game
(the loser has love next to their name)

the strange paradox
of this creature called love…
the irony, the agony
the incomprehensible dichotomy
(the devil sits in the shadows
breaking hearts
spilling dreams
like blood upon stones)

a portal to desolation
a beautiful longing
or a soft remembrance
passed from flower to flower
(even shadows have moments
of blossoming)

© Ann Bagnall

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.